Australia needs to get off natural gas if it is to have any hope of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to a new Grattan Institute report.

Getting off gas: why, how, and who should pay? shows that all-electric homes are cheaper to run and better for people’s health, and that alternative technologies such as hydrogen or biomethane are too costly and too far off for widespread use in homes and small businesses.

The report calls on each state and territory government to set a date for the end of gas.

Governments should launch long campaigns to encourage people to switch their homes from gas to all-electric and help them plan the timing to suit their personal circumstances.

Governments should ban new gas connections to homes, shops, and small businesses.

Well before 2050, they should phase out the sale of gas appliances, so that the last remaining gas appliances in homes are replaced with electric ones when they reach the end of their life.

Governments should pay for public, community, and Indigenous housing to be upgraded to all-electric.

A date should be set by which all rental homes should be required to have all-electric cooktops, water heaters, and home heating systems.

‘There is no time to waste,’ says report lead author and Grattan Institute Energy and Climate Change Program Director Tony Wood.

‘It will be complex for governments and for many people and businesses – but it is absolutely do-able, and further delay will only make this necessary transition harder.’

About five million households in Australia are on gas. In Victoria alone – the state which relies most on gas – about 200 households a day will need to stop using gas to reach zero homes on the gas network by 2050.

Although all-electric homes are cheaper to run, electric appliances are often more expensive to buy than the gas alternatives. To close this cost gap, and for a limited period, governments should provide low-interest loans or similar financing arrangements for homeowners, and tax incentives for landlords to replace gas appliances with electric ones.

Governments will also have to ensure the gas network is safely decommissioned, and the electricity network is expanded and upgraded so it can cope with higher demand.

‘There will be costs to the great energy transition, and governments will need to decide who pays, how much, and when,’ says Mr Wood.

‘But we must do this – for our hip-pockets, our health, and our environment.

‘Our report shows how.’

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